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27 October 2005 @ 06:47 pm
18  
You only hurt the ones you love.

One evening, after a potluck dinner with his fellow capoeira students during his first few days on his trip, Klein had decided that since the march hadn’t been going to occur on the very next day, a nice way to keep riding the energy high he’d reached from the day’s workout all the way to proper exhaustion would have been to make the most of the unexpected opportunity he’d been given to find out what the Brazilian nightlife could be like. He’d followed his feet where they’d taken him through the winding moonlit streets and they’d led him all the way to a dance club where they’d gone and scratched their itch to cut the rug. He’d discovered that the erratic footwork and arm swings he’d been practicing all day hadn’t looked that bad under the light projector tricks and that house, techno, psytrance and synthpop could do almost as well as musical accompaniment to his spins and low kicks as the berimbau, reco-reco and pandeiro could. It hadn’t taken that long before an observer had picked him out of the crowd.

Polychromatic flickers had been pouring themselves shamelessly all over his smooth sand-colored skin, playfully ruffling the dark, chaotic mess of short, thick, pointy strands sprouting from his head. Although Klein hadn’t been able to tell which species he’d been because he’d never seen anyone who’d looked like that before, he’d been short, skinny, scruffy and cute, all of which Klein had decided had been good traits for him to have had. The music had been too loud for introductions, but losing themselves in it had been all they’d needed to find each other. They’d shifted seamlessly from far to near, moving with and against each other, bobbing and swaying, hands tracing darting patterns, all impish smirks and predatory eyes. Their movements had questioned and answered each other’s like signals, fighters or instruments. Then and there, it’d been like nothing that’d ever bothered them had been able to reach them, they’d abandoned themselves to each other and they’d danced together like men possessed. They’d greeted the very final measures nestled in each other’s arms speaking into each other’s ears.

- Tell me, are all skunks as energetic dancers as you are, or is it just you?
- I’m the most so out of every skunk I know.
- How many is that?
- Not that many.
- I couldn’t have told.
- You’re quite the flatterer.
- Just making an observation.
- I’m not sure what you are, but you weren’t half bad yourself.
- That depends, are there any species you avoid?
- I do avoid some people, but not because of what species they are.
- What made you ask, then?
- I’m a curious little bugger, that’s all.
- What would you say if I told you I was a blowfish?
- I’d say that’s got an intriguing ring to it.
- Is that good?
- That’s what I was going for, at least.
- What would you say if I offered to buy you a drink?
- I’d say I hope you weren’t expecting me to argue with that.
- Come on, let’s get out of here. You can’t hear a damn thing in here.

They’d gone out to sip their respective intoxicants of choice at a slightly quieter table on the club’s back terrace.

- Hmm, I didn’t think your pants were really purple. I thought it was a trick of the light.
- Are they okay?
- Don’t worry, they look good on you.
- Heh, thanks. This isn’t the first time you come here, is it?
- Actually, yes, it is.
- No kidding?!
- Is that so surprising?
- I guess not, but I mean, this isn’t the first time you come to a club like this, is it?
- That, too.
- Then color me impressed.
- What for?
- You seemed so at ease in there. It was like you were totally immersed in your own element. It’s just that tonight is the exception for me, not the rule.
- What do you mean?
- I usually have a lot more trouble than you at integrating myself into a crowd like that.
- I used to think that about myself a lot too, on other days, in other crowds.
- I don’t just mean fitting in, I mean... I feel awkward saying it, but I don’t usually feel comfortable when there are a lot of other people everywhere around me like that. You know.
- I respect the kind of courage it must have taken for you to come here tonight, then.
- It’s the kind of courage I wish I didn’t need to have.
- I’m just surprised to hear it because really, you seemed so at ease in there to me too.
- Are you serious?
- Of course. You looked like you were doing exactly what you wanted to be doing with nothing getting in the way of that.
- I...

He’d laughed a nervous laugh, a laugh Klein had been going to learn to know him for.

- I did, didn’t I?
- Sure seemed like it. What convinced you to give it a shot in the first place, I wonder?
- The guys from work kept saying I was letting my job take over my life and I should go out to do something fun tonight for once, so I decided to do something to finally get them to shut up about it and this was the best I could come up with. I’d have thought it would have taken me a lot longer than it did to adapt to this.
- How long have you been practicing at it?
- Tonight was my first night here too.
- Wow! The way you handled yourself back there would have been impressive on anyone’s first night, you know?

A blue blush had risen to his cheeks at those words.

- I... Thank you. To be honest, I don’t know what came over me that made me let go of myself like that.
- Were you on anything?
- No, but I did feel kind of like I imagine it must feel like to be. You must be my good luck charm or something.
- Funny you’d be saying that.
- Why is that?
- It’s just that if there’s anything life’s taught me so far, it’s got to be that luck comes and goes.
- What brings you here?
- I came here for a capoeira seminar with my storytelling teacher.
- You’re not from around here?
- I’m from the northern continent.
- Are you moving down here?
- I’m supposed to be going back there about two weeks from now, since you’re asking.
- Oh. ... I see.
- Did you move here from somewhere?
- Japan.
- What made you come all the way down here from there?
- I felt more needed here than there.
- What did you feel needed for?
- I work for an international non-profit medical relief agency. I do surgery, acupuncture, toxicology, that kind of thing.
- That’s amazing! Well, amazing work, at least, I don’t know about an amazing job.
- That makes two of us.
- What drives you to it in spite of that, then?
- I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but most people don’t seem to have any money around here. Some people seem to think that means they ought to be left to die. I think there’s something very wrong with that.
- I don’t know if you’ve got an amazing job, but you sound like an amazing person, you know that?
- Heh, thanks. It doesn’t hurt to hear that every once in a while and I don’t hear it that often.
- I can’t imagine why.
- Trust me, you’ll probably figure it out on your own if you do end up sticking around me.
- Do you want me to?
- I’m sure I do, I’m just not sure you do.
- Don’t sell yourself short. Besides, you’ve piqued my curiosity.
- If you say so. You said you’re here with a teacher of yours, right?
- Yeah.
- Have you two been splitting a hotel room so far?
- Why do you ask?
- I’m asking because you don’t have to.
- Now what kind of person would I have to be to turn down an offer like that?

The next morning, sunbeams had pried Klein’s eyes open and as he’d stretched and yawned on the futon mattress. The sunlight had shone down on the grateful cactus basking on his host’s work desk, harpoon standing guard in the corner, half-sewn plush animals and gaming consoles lying about on the floor, chakra chart, fishing net, dartboard and butterfly collection hung up on the four walls, a kanji-covered paper ward on the door and gris-gris dangling over a small octagonal mirror looking up from the windowsill. A man of eclectic tastes, that much had been for certain, he’d mused, sitting up looking down at the slowly waking form next to him. As his host’s eyes had blinked themselves open and had come down to rest upon the alarm clock next to him, it had only taken him a few seconds to wake up enough to realize what the time on it had meant.

- Oh shit, I’m late for work! AGHHHHH!!

Klein had dove out of bed on instinct, breaking his fall with a side roll, coming up with a grunt, right hand clutching his arm and left clutching his shin, eyes darting from the former to the latter to his host’s epidermis taking in one, two, ten thousand needles.